Last week NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars. A landing that was the icing on the cake for the NASA team that has worked for years on the mission and was completed autonomously millions of miles from Earth. Now, the rover has sent back a few pictures showing where it is and how it is doing.
Perseverance sends its first photos from Mars
If there is one thing that continues to surprise about Perseverance, it is its complex yet successful landing. Hundreds of millions of kilometers from Earth NASA simply cannot control the rover live, in fact, each command or signal it receives takes eleven minutes to be received and processed. The descent to the surface of Mars is seven minutes of anguish in which the engineering team on Earth has no idea what is going on and just hopes that everything goes well.
It did go well. The rover made the landing completely autonomously and without a hitch. It did so in part thanks to NASA’s ingenious Sky Crane system, a device with 16 thrusters that kept the rover dangling so that it descended gently until it touched down. At that point, the ropes were released and the booster flew away from Jezero Crater, where Perseverance will explore for the next few months.
In an image shared by NASA we can see the spectacular descent captured from the Sky Crane and showing Perseverance dangling:
On the other hand, a photograph captured from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter probe allows us to see the rover with its parachute descending into the crater:
From Martian soil
Once the rover touched down, it sent back a quick, blurry, small image as confirmation. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to confirm that all was well. A few hours later and with some calm, the rover was busy taking better pictures and sending them back to Earth.
Perseverance is a one-ton rover packed with high-precision instruments and scientific tools to collect samples from Mars. But it also has a total of 19 cameras and two microphones to capture as much information as possible from the environment. One of these cameras has sent a photograph where we can see one of the rover’s wheels and part of the rocky Martian soil:
In another of these photographs, we can see the extensive Martian horizon at high resolution and in color. On the ground, you can also see the shadow of the rover and in the background some of the valleys surrounding the crater where the rover is right now: